Friday, March 24, 2017

Big Plans for Big Play


Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I have a play date scheduled last Sunday with our oldest granddaughter, Virginia Rose.  As I'm buckling her into her car seat, she announces, "Gammie, I have big, big plans for the day!"

"Oh, you do, do you?"  I respond.  "And what might those be?"

"We're going to play games, and go outside, and draw pictures, and . . ."

"And did Mommy tell you we're going to bake cookies?"

"No!  We are?  I can't wait, Gammie!"

When we arrive back at the house, it's time for lunch.  One of Virginia's favorites, and mine, is tomato soup with oyster crackers.  She can't help but be a bit silly with the latter.






Then it's time to feed the birds.  Virginia especially loves scattering the sunflower seeds on the "Squirrel Table."







We continue to explore the yard once the birds are fed.  Since she was three, Virginia has had a passion for collecting air-soft pellets still hanging around long after Danny's two boys engaged in air-soft contests.  Virginia calls the pellets "BB-Tinies."  Don't you love that moniker?




Crazy Sand is a perennial favorite of Virginia's.  And I can't begin to tell you how many hours of entertainment that provides over the years, especially when she is three and four, and I babysit her a lot!  She loves to decorate what she's making in the sand with her beloved BB-Tinies.






Have I mentioned how much Virginia loves to draw and paint?  If you look closely, you can see that she has recreated some planets with her water colors.




Earlier in the day, Virginia and I are discussing her name; she knows she is named after a state, so I pull of a map of the United States on the computer to show her.



She is fascinated, and decides this is something she needs to draw, too.



Next up, we play two rounds of the counting game, Shelby's Snack Shack.  I am amazed by how much math Virginia is now able to do in her head!



She is elated to win both games, managing to give her Gammie a good, old-fashioned shellacking in the last one.



Finally, the butter we have been softening for several hours is ready for cookie making.  Virginia loves watching our new mixer at work, and minds me about not placing her fingers anywhere near the paddle.  She has gotten quite adept at spooning cookie dough onto the baking sheet.



And even more skilled at sneaking bites!



While the cookies are baking, Virginia creates more art work on our dry erase board hanging in the kitchen.





The cookies emerge from the oven perfectly done, so now it's time for a round of the classic game, Candy Land.  True to form, Virginia whips me at this game, too!





The weather has warmed up, so out we go to the driveway so Virginia can play with her sidewalk chalk.  She is really learning how to spell!







Dinner time is drawing near, so I let my little sous chef spoon the chicken pot pie mixture into the pie shells.





While the pie bakes, a tired Virginia is content to chill out on the sofa with her Uncle Daniel, and watch a movie.



What a blessed play date we have shared!  All the plans Virginia had for the day have come to pass, and then some.  And I'm convinced that God's hands and plans were in it all!

Amen!

This Sunday, my husband, Danny, and I will be leaving for the mountains of North Carolina for some much needed rest and restoration.  I will not be posting any blogs next week, nor will I be reading the ones I routinely follow, as I plan to go as technologically "dark" as possible.  Rest assured, if you leave comments here after Sunday morning, I will respond when we return the following weekend.
May God bless you and keep you, and may His light ever shine upon you, my friends!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not By Bread Alone


John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Years ago, when my kids are growing up, I make bread from scratch on a regular basis.  The recipe book I trust never lets me down.  And though the process from start to finish practically takes up an entire day of "standing guard" over the rising loaves, I derive great satisfaction in knowing I'm providing my family with a nutritious alternative for their endless peanut butter/jelly or grilled cheese sandwiches.

But as time goes by, and my working life accelerates, bread making eventually falls by the wayside.  When Danny and I get married, I try several times to revive this healthy habit, but to no avail.  Although I use the exact same recipe I've always counted on, my loaves come out dense, flat, and most definitely unappealing.


I suppose you can guess where they end up.


Enter 2017 and the arrival of a brand-spanking new Kitchen Aid mixer.





Danny is beside himself with excitement, knowing he can now make fresh pasta with ease.  Me?  Even though the machine comes with a small recipe book, which includes how to make bread, I am still gun-shy.  As I too often do in the face of inevitable change, I find myself dragging my feet, apprehensive to even attempt the execution of a decent loaf of bread.

This past Saturday, with Danny's help, I muster up my courage and take the plunge.  After all, I reason, what do I stand to lose if it fails?  A few cups of flour?  A couple of yeast packets?


So here we go!









Here is the dough after rising for one hour.  Looking good!


I punch it down, divide it, and shape into loaves.


These are covered and allowed to rise for another hour.


And rise, they do, and how!


Golden brown and aromatic, fresh from the oven.


They slice beautifully, but the final proof is in the tasting.


Does it pass?  With flying colors!

And I am overwhelmed with elation and thankfulness to the Lord that all my hopes have exceeded expectations.  And while I rejoice in the success of this bread-making venture, I am reminded of the One who is the very Bread of Life.  I know that when I run to Jesus, my spirit will never go hungry; I will be filled with and satisfied by His Word.

Because as our Lord tells us, "It is written:  'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4)

May we always give thanks to God for meeting our earthly needs, and seek the spiritual sustenance only His Word can offer.

Amen!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Timeless


Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Last weekend marks the beginning of Daylight Savings time for many of us living in the States.  Spring Forward!  They glibly tell us.  Set those clocks ahead by an hour on Saturday night!

Thus begins, for me, an entire week of feeling jet-lagged.  It doesn't help that I've just gotten over the worst of an illness, the hallmark of which has me up repeatedly during the night, causing me to have to nap (a rarity for me) at some point during the day.  And never mind that I abhor having to get out of bed when it's still dark outside.

Although the springing forward business has always been tough for me to adjust to, this one has been the hardest I can recall.  Even as I compose this post on Wednesday, a good four days into the time change, I am so tempted to retreat to the couch, pull the cozy afghan up to my chin, and slip into a blissful snooze.

>Sigh<

Instead, I pour myself a tall glass of iced coffee, hoping the caffeine will catapult me out of this stupor, and I continue to wonder why anyone in their right mind would invent time changes in the first place.

Don't our bodies function best when following our natural rhythms?  Why mess with that?  When we "lose" an hour of sleep, doesn't that make us less alert and productive at our jobs?  And what about the children, like my grand-girls, who are on a firm bedtime/wake-up schedule?  Doesn't that make for some bleary-eyed zombies at the school bus stops?

Yes, I know.  Eventually, we will all make the needed adjustments, as loathe as we may be to do so.  Still, it's inconvenient.  It's unnecessary.

And it's a royal pain.

But in all the tiring, tiresome time change issue, I'm grateful for and comforted by this one thing:  God is timeless.

Jesus, our Lord, is the same yesterday and today and forever.  For all eternity.

And in light of that eternity, what does the loss of one hour's sleep matter?

It doesn't.

Thanks be to God!

Amen!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Birthday!


Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Finally!  After too many weeks of illness for my husband, Danny, and me, we are well enough to have the family over for my belated birthday celebration.  While I'm perfectly content to simply have a get together, I go all out for the trimmings for the sake of the granddaughters.




And they are having tons of fun.


Virginia loves to toot her horn.


Savannah in her own little world.


Alexandra, with ketchup on her face, takes it all in.


Alexandra with Mom


Virginia playing a game with Dad.

When our six-year-old, Virginia Rose, spies the "six" and "two" candles, she asks me point blank, "Gammie, are you sixty-two or twenty six?"

Her innocent question prompts lots of laughter.  "I'm sixty-two, Virginia," I confess, never having been one to shy away from telling my real age.

"That's old, Gammie," Virginia blurts without thinking, then quickly adds, "I mean, you're not old, old, just older."

Older, yes, and I do hope wiser.  I give her a reassuring hug.  "It's okay, honey.  That's the way birthdays work.  You turn another year older every time one rolls around."

And after a hearty rendition of the "Happy Birthday" song, Virginia helps me blow out those candles.



As everyone enjoys the sweet and tasty carrot cake, my mind drifts back to the time when I was only twenty-six.  That lost, confused, unsaved young woman, drowning in a people-pleasing sea, drifting aimlessly on the winds of the world, is someone I no longer recognize.  And how I thank God for that!

Ever since the moment I opened the door to Jesus, the one upon which He had been ever so patiently knocking on for years, the Lord has faithfully led me along the straight paths for His righteousness sake.  And though I'm still learning from Him, day by day, I'm so grateful for the wisdom God has imparted to me over these blessed years.

So thank you, Father, for these sixty-two years of life You have given me.  Teach me, and all of us, to number our days, that we might gain the heart of wisdom You desire for each one of us.

Amen!

~

Do you have a special birthday memory?  Please share in the comments!

Friday, March 10, 2017

This Little Light of Mine


Luke 11:33
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Before my husband, Danny, embarks on any home improvement project at the Orlando Compound (the name we affectionately call our place of residence), he gives it much serious thought and consideration.  Months ago, Danny gets the notion to spruce up the look of our deck at night with hanging lights, but not just any bulbs will do.  They must be energy-saving LEDs, and their cost can't be a burden on our budget.

Danny researches the price and quality of the LEDs he has in mind to use, but can't seem to find a bargain any where.  That is, until, a random run to our local Costco turns up the mother lode of LED string lights for half the price of the lowest quote Danny has found on line.


Needless to say, a sale is made, and we are one step closer to realizing our dream of having the deck draped in soft, ambient lighting.

Danny attempts to explain his vision for executing this engineering feat to me, but try as I might, my spatially-challenged brain cannot quite wrap itself around the details.  I don't worry about it though, because I trust completely in Danny's ability to follow through with any project he's contemplated for weeks.

Here's Danny hard at work!



It's coming along . . .



I can't wait until it's dark enough to flip that switch!


And did I mention the LEDs change color at the touch of a button?


Now when we sit out on our deck after sunset, I feel as though I've been magically transported to a sidewalk cafe in Italy or a romantic French bistro.  We can't help but smile at the inviting, soothing lights shining into the surrounding darkness, defying the encroaching shadows, and brightening our world one luminescent bulb at a time.

~

As Christians, God expects us to shine the light of Christ into this lonely and darkened world.  Are we shining His light brightly and courageously, or are we snuffing our light out under a bowl of doubt and hesitancy?  Maybe we shy away from exposing that light because we feel inadequate; after all, what difference does one bulb make against a vast sea of darkness?


When such disheartening thoughts emerge, let us instead imagine ourselves as a unique, precious bulb in a string of other unique and precious lights all working together, hand in hand, to shine the radiant light of God's kingdom.


And that, my friends, makes all the difference, indeed!

Amen!

We're Going Home

Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven. ...